The Bible contains a brief but intriguing verse that mentions how one human being in history -- Enoch -- didn't die, but instead went directly to heaven: "Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away" (Genesis 5:24).
How did God take Enoch from Earth to heaven? The Book of Enoch, which is part of the Jewish and Christian apocrypha, credits archangel Haniel (under one of her alternate names) with traveling to Earth on assignment from God to pick up Enoch in a fiery chariot and escort him through the flames into another dimension to reach heaven. Here's more about the story:
A Trip to Heaven
The book of 3 Enoch features archangel Metatron (who had originally been the prophet Enoch before becoming an angel in heaven) reflecting on what happened when archangel Haniel came to take him on a trip from Earth to heaven. 3 Enoch 6:1-18 records:
"Rabbi Ishmael said: Metatron, the Angel, the Prince of the Presence, said to me: 'When the Holy One, blessed be He, desired to lift me up on high, He first sent Anaphiel [another name for Haniel], the Prince, and he took me from their midst in their sight and carried me in great glory upon a fiery chariot with fiery horses, servants of glory. And He lifted me up to the high heavens, together with the Shekinah [the physical manifestation of God's glory].'"
"'As soon as I reached the high heavens, the holy Chayot, the Ophanim, the Seraphim, the Cherubim, the wheels of the Merkaba (the Galgallim), and the ministers of the consuming fire, perceiving my smell from a distance of 365,000 myriads of parasangs, said: 'What smell of one born of a woman and what taste of a white drop is this that ascends on high? He is merely a gnat among those who divide flames of fire!'"
"The Holy One, blessed be He, answered and spoke to them: 'My servants, my hosts! Don’t be displeased on account of this. Since all the children of men have denied me and my great kingdom and have gone worshiping idols, I have removed my Shekinah from among them and have lifted it up on high. But this one I have taken from among them is an elect one of the inhabitants of the world, and he is equal to all of them in faith, righteousness, and perfection of deed, and I have taken him as a tribute from my world under all the heavens.'"
The Scandalous Scent of a Human
It's interesting to note that the angels who encountered Enoch when he arrived in heaven detected the fact that he was a living human being by his scent and were upset about his presence there among the angels until God explained why he chose Enoch to come to heaven without dying first.
In his book Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, Howard Schwartz comments: "Enoch, like Noah, was a righteous man in his generation. He was the first among men who wrote down the signs of heaven. God saw the righteous ways of Enoch and called upon the angel Anafiel [another name for Haniel] to bring Enoch into heaven. An instant later Enoch found himself in a fiery chariot, drawn by fiery horses, ascending on high. As soon as the chariot reached heaven, the angels caught the scent of a living human and were ready to cast him out, for none among the living were permitted there. But God called out to the angels, saying, 'I have taken an elect one from among the inhabitants of Earth and have brought him here...'"
Archangel Haniel's role as an angel who allows people into various heavenly places may be one of the reasons God chose her to take Enoch into heaven. Not only is Haniel "a prince of angels who takes Enoch up to heaven in a fiery chariot in 3 Enoch," but Haniel "also holds the keys to the palaces of heaven," writes Julia Cresswell in her book The Watkins Dictionary of Angels: Over 2,000 Entries on Angels and Angelic Beings.
In his book Edgar Cayce and the Kabbalah: Resources for Soulful Living, John Van Auken also credits Haniel as being "the angel who carried Enoch (who, according to the Bible, did not die but was 'taken by God' from Earth to heaven."
Haniel's many alternate names have confused some people over which angel really carried Enoch into heaven, so Richard Webster says in his book Encyclopedia of Angels that "Haniel is sometimes thought to be the angel who transported Enoch to heaven" but some people credit other angels.
Haniel may have joined some other archangels to give Enoch a spectacular display of angelic power and unity on his heavenly tour. In The Angel Bible: The Definitive Guide to Angel Wisdom, Hazel Raven says that Haniel was one of the seven angels Enoch saw come together in a glorious way: "Enoch saw the seven angels before the throne of God as alike (they were also composite rather than single beings and represent countless others). They were all equal in height, had brilliant faces and identical robes. They were seven yet one -- the unity of angels. They controlled and harmonized everything in God’s creation. They controlled the movement of the stars, the seasons, and the waters on the Earth, as well as plant and animal life. The archangels also kept the record of all the incarnations of every human being."